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The story of Suh, Jang-geum, who struggles in life begins with being the child of fugitives, to being a Court Lady of the Royal Kitchen, to becoming the first Female Royal Physician. This show that could be shown on the Soap Opera Channel, History Channel, Food Channel, and Medical Channel at the same time! This is based on a REAL character in Korean History.Written by
The script originally included a kissing scene between Seo Jang-geum and Min Jung-ho, but Yeong-ae Lee, who plays Jang-geum, felt it wasn't necessary and that the drama did not need such scenes in order to generate viewer ratings. Hence the scene was removed. See more »
This is a popular Korean historical drama based loosely on a real-life woman who became the King's personal physician. This was during a time when Confucian rules were extremely strict and patriarchal, so it was very unusual for a woman to attain such a high position. The show's writers used the bare historical framework available and heavily embellished it to construct a wonderful drama.
Jang-geum is the daughter of fugitives; she is orphaned at an early age. She enters the royal palace as a palace maid, and begins training to be come a court lady under the tutelage of Lady Han. However, the palace is rife with the machinations of the evil Lady Choi, until Jang-geum and her mentor are finally sent into exile. Jang-geum finds another career path and is able to re-enter the palace as a physician lady. Of course, there is a love interest: the handsome and noble Sir Min who unconditionally supports Jang-geum's career ambitions at his own expense. Women figure prominently both as plotting against Jang-geum and helping her. There are a few touches that remind one of a Gothic novel, such as the occasional vision of those who have passed away.
This is a wonderfully compelling show full of lovely costumes, sets, scenery, cinematography. The makers obviously set out to show Korea in all its beauty and miss no opportunity to place a mountain in the background. I believe real palaces were used in some of the shots, and these are beautiful as well.
The show is also rather wholesome, and I mean that in the best sense possible. The virtuous heroine is eventually rewarded for her good character - her courage, loyalty, strong work ethic, desire to help others. There are absolutely no sex scenes or revealing clothes - a bare foot seen for one second is as suggestive as it gets. In this day and age it's refreshing to see a TV drama that can be wholesome without being sappy. Somehow, Jang-geum and Sir Min's long romance is the more beautiful because they aren't allowed to Be Together.
Anyone who has enjoyed Jane Austen adaptations, Gothic novels, and other story lines with a long-suffering heroine struggling with class prejudice, sexism and the plots of other women will certainly enjoy this. As long as you don't mind subtitles and can find a subtitled version, you'll be fine. The Chicago Korean TV station aired this with subtitles, and Yesasia is promising to release an English-subtitled DVD set later on this year. Google "Jang-geum forum" to find English-speaking forums that will answer a lot of your questions regarding the show.
Seek this out, it's a hidden treasure.
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